The quality we expect from the software we use continues to soar to new heights. While design will always be a critical input, personalization is equally important. A personalized experience signals respect to the customer, and helps earn their loyalty and trust. This is why customer data is the lifeblood of the modern business. The more of it that can be collected and processed, the more opportunities emerge to personalize and improve the experience.
However, the infrastructure that is necessary to derive value from customer data is non-trivial to build and operate. Much has already been said about these challenges, and the resulting explosion of new data infrastructure products over the past decade that has culminated in the industry’s coalescence around the Modern Data Stack. A key implication of the MDS architecture is the central role of the cloud data warehouse. This has forced adjacent layers of the stack to conform to this paradigm, and given rise to a vibrant ecosystem of high-growth startups.
Surprisingly, one of the most critical components of the stack has yet to be reinvented with this paradigm in mind - the customer data platform (CDP). The role of the CDP is to collect, route, and process all customer data into profiles that can be consumed by downstream systems such as marketing automation, CRM, and product analytics. The current generation of CDPs are “closed” systems that run pipelines and features in a black box. This is acceptable for the marketing teams they were originally conceived for, but becomes problematic for developers. As customer data infrastructure is now so foundational to any company, developers have become more responsible for it.